A man page generator is one of those tools that I’ve said I would write for a long time, being displeased with most of the other options. For a while I used asciidoc, but was never fond of it. There are a few things I want to see in a man page generator:
- A syntax which is easy to read and write
- Small and with minimal dependencies
- Designed with man pages as a first-class target
All of the existing tools failed some of these criteria. asciidoc hits #1, but fails #2 and #3 by being written in XSLT+Python and targetting man pages as a second-class citizen. mdocml fails #1 (it’s not much better than writing raw roff), and to a lesser extent also fails criteria #21. Another option, ronn meets criteria #1 and #3, but it’s written in Ruby and fails #2. All of these are fine for the niches they fill, but not what I’m looking for. And as for GNU info… ugh.
So, after tolerating less-than-optimal tools for too long, I eventually wrote the man page generator I’d been promising for years: scdoc. In a nutshell, scdoc is a man page generator that:
- Has an easy to read and write syntax. It’s inspired by Markdown, but importantly it’s not actually Markdown, because Markdown is designed for HTML and not man pages.
- Is less than 1,000 lines of POSIX.1 C99 code with no dependencies and weighs 78 KiB statically linked against musl libc.
- Only supports generating man pages. You can post-process the roff output if you want it converted to something else (e.g. html).
I recently migrated sway’s manual to scdoc after adding support for generating tables to it (a feature from asciidoc that the sway manual took advantage of). This change also removes a blocker to localizing man pages - something that would have been needlessly difficult to do with asciidoc. Of course, scdoc has full support for UTF-8.
My goal was to make a man page generator that had no more dependencies than man itself and would be a no-brainer for projects to use to make their manual more maintainable. Please give it a try!
mdocml is small and has minimal dependencies, but it has runtime dependencies - you need it installed to read the man pages it generates. This is Bad. ↩
Articles from blogs I follow around the net
For the third year in a row, the Go team and contributors convened the day before GopherCon to discuss and plan for the future of the Go project. The event included self-organizing into breakout groups, a town-hall style discussion about the proposal process…via The Go Programming Language Blog August 15, 2019
This post gives an overview of the recent updates to the Writing an OS in Rust blog and the used libraries and tools. Since I'm still very busy with my master thesis, I haven't had the time to work on a new post. But there were quite a few maintena…via Writing an OS in Rust August 2, 2019
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